Home Catch and Release

Catch and Release

Catch and Release

No matter what species you fish for Catch and Release plays an important role. Careful handling and release is just as important when returning undersize fish as when you adopt a no fill approach to angling.

Fishing Tackle

The angling method used can have a significant bearing on the survival rate of released fish. Typically those methods which use a single barbless hook have better survival.

Barbless hooks do less damage, are easier to remove and reduce handling time which can be in important factor influencing survival. Barbed hooks can have the barb pinched with a pliars to allow a fish to be released more easily. Where it is not possible to use barbless hooks, hooks used should preferably be single. The fishing tackle used should be strong enough to enable the fish to be brought in quickly. taking account of the prevailing conditions and the possible size of the fish that might be caught.

Some species can be effectively fished for with circle hooks (especially shark species) which make for easy release and rarely result in deeply hooked fish.

Playing the Fish

Playing a fish in the following way will help its chances of survival:

  • Avoid exhausting the fish
  • In a river, play the the fish out of the fast current into quieter water
  • Once the fish is subdued bring it quickly to the bank or boat

Landing the Fish

Research has shown that exposing some fish to air for even a short period, for example to take a photograph, can significantly reduce its chances of survival.

  • Keep the fish in the water at all times for an optimal release.
  • If using a landing net usse a large diatmeter net with soft knotless mesh – rubber mesh nets are ideal
  • Never beaching a fish
  • No gaffs or tailers
  • Always handle the a fish with wet hands

Removing the Hook

  • Wet your hands and keep the fish in the water Handling of the fish should be minimized
  • When necessary the fish should be supported from beneath and the hook gently removed either by hand or by means of long-nosed forceps or other approprate tool
  • If a hook is deeply embedded and cannot be removed, the leader should be cut close to the hook, as fish released with the hook attached will generally survive
  • Take extra care with loose scaled fish such as fresh run salmon, sea trout and some marine species. as they are more prone to scale loss, injury and subsequent fungal infection
  • Care must be taken not to squeeze the fish or hold it by the gills
  • Never suspend a fish, especially a large fish, by its tail or gill cover, always cradle or give adequate support to fish


If you must have a photo of your catch, why not photgraph the fish in the water? Otherwise please follow these guidelines.

  • Keep the fish in the water until you are ready to take the photo
  • Do not keep the fish out of the water for more than a few seconds at a time. Dunk the fish between shots.
  • Kneel or squat with the fish, or pose in the water, to ensure that a dropped fish will not be injured or damaged.
  • Hold the fish in a manner to give adequate support. No fingers in the gills or eyes.
  • Cradle heavy fish.
  • Avoid squeezing, especially at the throat where the heart is located.

Releasing and Reviving the Fish

  • After removing the hook or cutting the leader, the fish should be supported in the water facing into the current and given sufficient time to recover
  • Hold the fish gently until it is capable of swimming away strongly
  • Avoid weighing the fish
  • The weight can be estimated from its length using the conversion charts
  • A tape measure or a wading stick can be used to take the approximate length while keeping the fish in the water

Angling publications